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Andrew Octopus: The Octopus Files, January 2009


It was early enough in the  presidency of Paris Hilton that you still mostly saw petroleum-based cars on the roads. Still, the solar cells and the biodiesel generators were starting to spread, slowly and uncertainly, absorbing their newfound space in fits and spurts like awkward adolescents. I only talked to one club owner back then, and I will leave her nameless out of fear of legal repercussions, as the attorneys for her estate haven't proven as incredible as she always was. The conversations we had, though, proved prescient. (I wish she had lived to see the future she helped make.) Here is a sample:

--Why are you having these truckloads of soil dumped on the roof?

--To grow hemp.


--Yes! We will use it in the biodiesel generator to power the strobe lights, DJ's equipment, the wireless communication systems--everything...

--Okay, but won't you just have to spend resources to keep the hemp growing? And how will you ever grow enough?

--We have a partnership with the other buildings in the community. I'm going to get them to plant it on their roofs, too.

--How will you farm it?

--I'll have robots built.

--Ahh...but won't the expense of that offset your costs?

--At first, it's going to be a big outlay, I will admit. However, they are going to have solar cells, so I won't spend anything on the energy for them. I'll supplement the robots with local high school kids, and I can give the kids free memberships to the club to help keep the cost of wages down.

--But what about fertilizer for the crop?

--Why do you think I had all that reworking on the sewer system done? She grinned.

Her DJs (of which I miraculously and inexplicably counted myself one, splitting shifts with tastemakers much more talented than I was) were as forward thinking as she was: livecoding with the latest tracks from all over the world, pattern recognition software hooked up to a matrix of sensors which fed them the bpm of the crowd's rhythms, so that they could cue the music that the patrons' bodies were already anticipating, cellular automaton and genetic algorithmic sequencers which let the beats evolve in a variety of ways both natural and random, space-specific audio artifacts so that listeners could walk through as well as listen to the sounds. Every night she would watch as her hard work paid off, as a generation teemed in to experience the best of themselves, a cast of unforgettable characters directed by a brilliant mind.

It made me regret ever railing against the music business. Because at the end of the day, the music business is us. It is our money and our minds and our time. Our radio stations, our record labels, our albums, our evolution--our responsibility. We can rage against the machine or we can reverse-engineer it, study it hard, and improve the design. There is a reason these idea survive--deeper than reason, these patterns of joy live on our beliefs and our love. And in this alternate timeline where you and I reside, it's time to start putting soil on the roof of the club.

Andrew Octopus.
end transmission.

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